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Lichi Fuentes

Lichi Fuentes was born and grew up in San Fernando, Chile, a small town a couple of hours of the capital, Santiago.

The youngest of seven children, Lichi grew up in a musical family; her father played the mandolin, her mother the piano and her grandmother the guitar. Lichi’s older brother, who was then 17, brought the first guitar into the house and her older sister began playing it. At five years old, Lichi remembers watching her sister practice and copying the movements of her right hand.

When she was six, Lichi became ill and had to stay in bed for two months. To help pass the time and keep occupied, her parents bought her a little guitar. Lichi’s sister taught her how to play her first three chords and from then on Lichi was self-taught until she went to music school.

In high school Lichi formed a duo with a classmate. They entered all the local festivals and won a lot of the competitions. Most of the other competitors were solo performers, so singing in harmony gave them an advantage. During the last two years of high school, Lichi decided to make the group bigger and were joined by three pupils from the Catholic boys’ school. They named the new group “Eduardo Eloy” in honor of a young priest who supported the idea of integrating the town’s schools through music, and their friendship has lasted to this day.

At age 19 Lichi attended the University of Chile Music School, in Santiago, where she studied voice, guitar, and music theory. While at the University, she formed two groups: Conjunto “Amanda”, the first all-women ensemble in Chile, and Conjunto “Araucaria”. Both these groups performed nueva canción, Latin American New Song. This music had its roots in folklore and popular music, but the lyrics dealt with contemporary social issues.

In 1980 Lichi left Chile and moved to Berkeley, California. Almost immediately, she was invited to join “Grupo Raíz”, a group who performed music from Latin America New Song movement. Lichi was a member of Raíz for five years, touring and performing in North and South America, and Europe. During that time, Raíz recorded three albums.

After Grupo Raíz, Lichi formed “Altazor” an all-women quartet in 1987.As with Raíz, Altazor toured and performed extensively, recording two albums.

Since Altazor, Lichi has continued to be closely involved with music and social issues. She has taken part in a wide variety of activities ranging from South American children’s music with Colibrí, to Caribbean dance music with “Conjunto Céspedes” and Jesús Díaz y su QBA. Lichi is also a public school music teacher and has performed in the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music series.

Lichi is currently the musical director of La Peña Community Chorus, an organization based in Berkeley which has toured internationally (Cuba, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Argentina) and recorded two albums.

In the last few years, Lichi has been more involved in solo musical projects, collaborating with musicians from the Bay Area. Her most recent album is called “Quien Soy”, a solo recording produced by Wayne Wallace.

Video of Lichi Fuentes and Hugo Wainzinger in concert at the La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, California in March 2013